Give thanks for wrestling this week. If you see any young men jogging after Thanksgiving meals, the chances are those runners are wrestlers. From an East Coast swing to local tournament titles, this was the Weekend In Wrestling:
UNI splits out east
Northern Iowa traveled to Pitt and West Virginia for its season-opening dual and conference dual start. The 14th-ranked Panthers managed to break even, losing the final two matches in a 21-19 loss at Pitt on Saturday. UNI began the season short-handed without All-Americans Max Thomsen (149) and Jacob Holschlag at 197 and dropped decisions at those weights.
UNI rebounded on Sunday, beating the Mountaineers, 27-19, to improve to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12. Like Saturday, the West Virginia dual was decided during the final weight. Former Albia prep and Panthers heavyweight, Carter Isley, came through with a 10-1 major decision over David Smith to secure the victory.
Jay Schwarm (125), Josh Alber (141), Bryce Steiert at 165, 174-pounder Taylor Lujan and All-American Drew Foster (184) went 2-0 on the trip. Schwarm was impressive with two pins and Lujan added a major decision and a fall. Lujan stuck West Virginia’s Josh Ramirez, who won the Class 2A 160-pound title for Dubuque Wahlert in February.
The 2019 NCAA Championships will be held at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena on March 21-23. UNI Coach Doug Schwab was asked about starting and closing the season in the same place.
“They know it’s in Pittsburgh,” Schwab said of his wrestlers. “I’m sure they’ll think about it a little bit. There’s a lot of work to be done before then with all of guys, but certainly you have to picture yourself there. Not just picture yourself, like I believe I’m going to be there. Put yourself in that arena.”
Young Hawkeyes shine
Iowa claimed four titles Saturday at the Lindenwood Open at St. Charles, Mo. Among the titlists were unattached freshmen Nelson Brands and Tony Cassioppi.
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Brands’ performance was highlighted by a 3-1 overtime semifinal victory over Illinois’ Joey Gunther, who transferred to his home state after qualifying for two NCAA tournaments for Iowa. Brands also avenged a loss to Dan Braunagel, winning 3-1 in the 165 finals. Braunagel beat Brands in the 160 USA Wrestling junior freestyle nationals in July at Fargo, N.D.
Cassioppi continued his team at open tournaments. After opening with a decision, Cassioppi pinned his final three foes, including Iowa State heavyweight Gannon Gremmel in the finals. Cassioppi is 8-0 with seven pins.
Former English Valleys prep Zach Axmear claimed the 149-pound title in the freshman and sophomore division. He recorded four pins and a technical fall. Vince Turk added an open title at 141 for the Hawkeyes.
Reeves, Henderson win home tourney
Coe’s Brock Henderson and Kaleb Reeves won titles at the Kohawk Invitational Saturday at Coe.
Henderson, who beat Central’s third-ranked Cam Timok in a dual Thursday, won at 133, tallying three technical falls.
Reeves won the heavyweight division, pinning all five foes, including one in 18 seconds.
Steveson sheds redshirt
Minnesota’s Gable Steveson shed his redshirt Sunday in a home dual against Oklahoma State.
The freshman phenom made immediate waves, beating third-ranked senior Derek White, 8-2.
Steveson was the top recruit of the 2018 class.
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